Packing for international travel is difficult enough and then I add my photography equipment to the mix and BOOM I become instantly overwhelmed. I have made it my personal goal over the years to achieve the "PERFECT" travel packing list for my 23 or 24-day trips to Africa for two main reasons. First and foremost, less luggage = less travel stress! Secondly, at least 60% of the items in my luggage were always "just in case" items and since my New Years' resolution was to forge outside my comfort zone I decided that leaving at home over 1/2 of my usual luggage definitely qualified! That said, I believe I came as close as I've ever come to packing bliss this past September for my trip to Tanzania. Mind you, this is a personal article packing list --- I will get to the camera gear list in a separate post! Drum roll, please...
3 full-length cargo pants from Dicks Sporting Goods: Dick's Cargo Pants (any lightweight hiking cargo pant would be fine, this was just my choice
4 pairs of quick-dry travel underwear.
3 pairs of hiking socks
1 pair of Timberland hiking sneakers: REI Hiking Boots (again, anything of this type is fine just showing you mine for reference.)
1 pair of polarized sunglasses: a polarized pair works best on safari for spotting animals and is a MUST to protect your eyes from the equator sun
1 sun-protective insect repellant neck gaiter: REI neck gaiter these work great to cover your nose and mouth when the dust is kicking up in addition to protecting your neck while we're shooting out of the top of the Rover.
1 lightweight windbreaker/rain jacket: Rain Jacket depending on the time of year we may experience a light morning rain, in addition, the windbreaker will keep you warm on a chilly morning before sunrise in the higher elevations.
2 short sleeve t-shirts in case I want to change out of my safari shirt for dinner (but, truth be told those are the only 2 items I never wore last year.) Each evening when we return from safari, our hosts gather our gear and deliver it to our rooms and we usually head straight to the dining room.
1 pair of PJ's.
1 sun-protective safari hat: Tilley Airflow Hat I love this hat because it's light-weight, wide-brimmed and has great airflow in the heat. No matter what brand you get I recommend a hat with a strap - I have had mine blowback many times in the open Rover only to be caught by the strap around my neck.
And that's it for Safari clothes since we do have laundry service daily! On occasion, there might be a day we overnight at a camp for only one night and logistics won't allow for laundry that day just in case I pack 3 of each instead of 2 of each.
My Travel Clothes:
1 pair of comfy pants for airplane travel. I love these new pants I found BetaBrand! Dress pants/Yoga Pants that I have shared with as many people who will listen. Check them out and trust me you'll love them.
1 pair of slip-on tennis shoes Olukai Slip-on Sneakers. These sneakers are definitely on my list of favorite things after a long search for the "perfect" casual slip-on sneaker. Easy on/off at the airport and on the plane, great arch support and they look good with jeans or my Betabrand pants when I travel.
Another of my "must-haves" are my packing cubes! A fellow traveler introduced me to these a few years back and I immediately went to Amazon.com and never looked back. I roll my clothes (for both space and wrinkle reasons) and zip them into the packing cubes and voila' I have filled less than half of a regular-sized airline checked suitcase (including my toiletries) and I am WELL under the luggage weight limit. And BONUS, I have the other half of my suitcase free "if" I want to purchase travel gifts/souvenirs for friends and family along with no worries about how I am going to transport them home.
One of the big questions I get about safari clothing is "Are the drab colors really necessary?" and my answer is yes for the following reasons. The best safari color is khaki followed by olive, tans, and browns. These are good at handling dirt. Bright colored safari clothing draws attention to you the tourist, rather the wildlife you intend to see, and may sometimes scare away the animals. So look for neutral-colored clothing. Avoid black and dark blue clothing (both colors attract tsetse flies), and leave bright-white items at home; safari parks are often dusty, and white clothes may get dingy. Animals are scared by red most likely because it is the clothing color of the local Maasai tribes who hunt in the area. And BONUS, how great is it that you can go 20 days without having to decide what to wear?!